The Hero’s Journey in Into The Wild, by John Krakauer Essay

The Hero’s Journey in Into The Wild, by John Krakauer Essay

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In the novel, A Hero’s Journey, Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, writer, and lecturer, states that “every decision made by a young person is life decisive. What seems to be a small problem is really a large one. So everything that is done early in life is functionally related to a life trajectory” (Campbell). In mythic criticism, the critic sees mythic archetypes and imagery connecting and contrasting it with other similar works. Certain patterns emerge, such as a traditional hero on a journey towards self actualization. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer portrays this hero’s journey. The protagonist of the novel, Chris McCandless, hitchhikes to Alaska and walks alone into the wilderness, north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. He thought that the reality of the modern world was corrupt and uncompassionate, so he went on this journey in order to find a life of solitude and innocence that could only be expressed through his encounters with the wild. During this ambitious journey to find the true meaning of life, Chris McCandless exhibits a pattern like the type explained above. In Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, Chris McCandless follows this mythic pattern, seeking to be the traditional hero who spurns civilization, yet he discovers that modern heroes cannot escape their reality.

Chris’s personality exhibits the real foundation of the pattern of his heroic journey. The last thoughts of Chris McCandless were, “I have had a happy life and thank the Lord. Goodbye and may God bless you all!” (Krakauer 199). This demonstrates how Chris had a kind and compassionate heart. His considerate...


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...eality was about the horrors and trepidations that have consumed a once healthy society, but he never noticed that there is a different side to reality. It is about friendship, free will, and compassion. The true meaning of joyfulness is to experience new things like going into the wild, but to experience them with another human being. This is the most fulfilling aspect of life because a person is impacting not only his/her life, but also the life of another. When a person joins the amorous aspects of reality, and then mixes it into commencing and enveloping the freedom that nature has to offer, only then will he/she truly have a life of pleasure and contentment.


Work Cited

Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. New York: Anchor Books, 1996.

The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work. Google Books. November 10, 2009. http://books.google.com/books.

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